Thursday, March 5, 2009

Engaging Me

I have really enjoyed reading and thinking about Will Richardson's recent blog post: Personalizing Education for Teachers Too. So far there are about 54 comments on his original post. Since I selected to follow any additional comments, I get a couple new ones in my email every day which have lead me to think about the issue from several different perspectives.

Blogging is such an interesting way to have a conversation. It's great for people like me who need the processing time between comments (I was never one who did well in the college history course in which my grade depended on how many times I spoke during the two hour class discussion). In following this conversation I have found my own thoughts developing from the multiple perspectives of the contributors who have commented, I have read online articles including "What Research Says About...The Continuum of Teacher Learning" from Educational Leadership, and I have contributed my two cents a couple of times.

Today I added:
There seem to be two threads to this conversation 1) how to best engage students and 2) how to best engage teachers. And, the answer seems to be the same-with direct one-on-one interpersonal interactions and guidance. This is an area that I am always trying to improve in my own teaching practices. And this conversation only solidifies for me its importance. Although time is always an issue, building meaningful connections with other people doesn't have to take a long time. It's the little things you do to show interest in the person. When you show that kind of interest more times than not the student reciprocates with giving your subject a more open-minded approach.
The same goes with helping colleagues open up to discovering the many opportunities that web 2.0 has to offer to the learning experience. Reaching out to them where they are, hearing their concerns, and giving them practical help where they need it will make their transition even smoother and hopefully "light the fire" within them which could spread to others. Is this too optimistic? I hope not. I can't see our institutions changing significantly any other way.

As far as taking time to learn the safe and efficient way to use tech, I'm not sure that's necessary or if that's even a luxury that we have at this point. The time to use tech in the classroom is now. The only thing you have to "learn" about using it well is to use it purposefully, not as a gadget or for entertainment value. How do you learn this? Seek out a mentor for yourself, in person or online. The resources for learning are all around you.

We know that students learn best when they are engaged. Engage them and they will be ready for the standardized tests. Engage them by using the resources available to you and to them to light their fire for learning.
I don't often get so involved in a blogging conversation like this one, but I'm glad that I did. Ultimately, I want to be able to help my students create these kinds of conversations in their own blogs. Just haven't figured out how to fit that into my prescribed curriculum yet.

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